Michigan State stunned Notre Dame with a 34-31 victory on a fake field goal in overtime. The play came as State lined up for a 46 yard field goal attempt after a great Notre Dame defensive stand.
MSU holder and punter Aaron Bates took the snap and jumped up, looking for an open receiver. Charlie Gantt, senior tight end, blocked an Irish defender then came free to catch the winning touchdown.
Irish quarterback Dayne Crist passed for over 300 yards and 4 TDs, once again showing he is a capable leader. His effort helped keep Notre Dame battling for a rivalry victory on the road in a hostile environment. It was the defense that let this game get away.
These two teams were both even coming in, with Michigan State three point favorites at home. Last year's game was a back and forth affair that saw the Irish pull off a four-point victory after a last minute defensive interception when their backs were against the wall. So this thriller was no surprise.
Still, Irish fans found reason to complain. It appeared that the play clock might have expired before the Spartans got the winning play off. But officials on the field did not see it. The complaining taking place is a remant of the Charlie Weiss era. The arrogance, the lack of accountability, the refusal to own up to all the mistakes that put the team in the position to lose the game in the first place are all the reasons Notre Dame is no longer a national power, and yet so many fans hold on to that pathetic attitude.
First year coach Brian Kelly is rejecting that attitude, and it is for the better. Now it is time for the fans to follow his leadership (and yes, I do mean leadership, something Weiss never demonstrated).
To complain because of one non-call at the end of the game is not only demonstrative of a bad attitude, but it shows a lack of character as well. Let us not forget that officials have to keep track of 22 players on the field, coaches and nearly 200 players on the sidelines, the clock, movements on the field, penalties during the play, and they are required to monitor the play from the instant the ball is snapped. Catching a delay of game when the snap of the ball comes less than a second after the play clock expires can be difficult for any person. And replays might prove inconclusive (see a still picture here). What the still picture cannot show is whether the center had begun to move the ball by the time the clock hit 0.
Replays do not clearly show whether the ball was moving or not at the instant the clock hit 0, either. So this is another controversy. But it shouldn't be. Because at the end of the day, if Notre Dame truly deserved to win this game, they'd have played better from the beginning. The offense would not have turned the ball over twice in the red zone. The defense would have stopped the MSU rushing attack. The tight end never would have come open. At the end of the day, this is not a controversial loss. This is a learning lesson for the team, and the fans have a responsibility to themselves and to the coach, the players, the program, and the university to accept defeat gracefully, with honor, and with admiration for an opponent that did not win the game on one play alone.